Hamas member killed after Israeli teens found dead
By Ian Deitch, AP
July 2, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
JERUSALEM--A Palestinian from the militant group Hamas was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out an arrest raid in the West Bank hours after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, Israel's military said Tuesday.
Tensions have soared since the bodies were found, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blaming Hamas and warning it “will pay,” while militants in Hamas-controlled Gaza have stepped up rocket attacks, drawing Israeli retaliatory airstrikes and risking a wider conflict.
Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, were abducted on June 12 while hitchhiking home from the Jewish seminaries where they were studying near the West Bank city of Hebron. The teens' bodies were found Monday evening after 18 days of intense searches.
A Defense official said based on the investigation that the teens were shot soon after they were abducted. He spoke anonymously in line with protocol as the investigation is still ongoing.
Hamas, which has kidnapped Israelis in the past, has praised the abduction of the teenagers but not taken responsibility for it.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri warned Israel against any broad offensive against the group, saying it would “open the gates of hell” on Israel.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon issued a statement Tuesday vowing to find those behind the killings. “We see Hamas responsible for the kidnappings and murders. We will continue to pursue the murderers of the teens and will not rest until we lay our hands on them,” he said.
The man killed Tuesday was the first casualty since the bodies were found.
A military spokesman meanwhile said aircraft struck 34 targets across Gaza overnight after more than 20 rockets were fired into Israel since late Sunday from the Palestinian territory.
In an operation codenamed “Brother's Keeper,” Israel dispatched thousands of troops across the West Bank in search of the youths, closed roads in the Hebron area and arrested some 400 Hamas operatives throughout the territory.
There is a national spirit of solidarity in Israel, a small country with an “all for one and one for all” mentality that stems from